A civil rights group has sued the US government, saying it needs more information about surveillance of Americans' phone and financial records to guide the public debate over what will happen when the law that regulates the scrutiny expires next year, the AP reports. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the National Security Agency, the director of national intelligence, the CIA, and the Justice Department on Friday in Manhattan federal court, seeking information about a program that collects records during investigations into terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. According to the lawsuit, the government has not responded to requests made last month for information about its surveillance of Americans under a 2015 law.
Congress used the law to set boundaries on the NSA's bulk collection of call records and other data after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents revealing extensive government surveillance. The law requires annual reports to Congress from the intelligence community and forces the government to seek a court order to collect call records to obtain intelligence. Requests of records of US citizens for investigations cannot be based solely on activities protected by the First Amendment. A government spokesman declined comment. The limits on the surveillance are due to expire in 2019, and the ACLU says more information is needed for a healthy debate before the law is reauthorized or changes are made. (An NSA whistleblower got 5 years in prison—but is that fair?)